- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2008

Great Falls Park.

Spectators and park visitors lined the observation decks on both the Virginia sides as other kayak competitors watched just a few feet away as his yellow creek boat cut through a narrow route surrounded by rocky cliffs and outcroppings. The 10 finishers at the annual Potomacfest moved on to compete in the finals.

Kellman, of McLean, was 0.38 seconds from making the cut with a time of 1:01:60.

Saturday’s large turnout from around the country and the world is a change for Kellman, who runs the falls almost daily after work as a camp counselor just down the road. Ten years ago, his mom, Cyd Kellman, signed him, herself and a friend up for kayak lessons.

“She wanted me to stay busy over the summer,” he said.

While at home on a break from studying physical geography at Montana State University, Kellman often finds himself running a portion of the river alone just before the sun sets. This past week, he was training for Saturday’s event on “The Spout,” a 20 foot or so foot waterfall on the Virginia side, and “The Streamers,” which is another waterfall in the center of the river.

Kellman does not give himself a label of doing “extreme sports.”

“In my head, it’s just like every other sport,” he said. “Every time you go kayaking, you take risks.”

Last September, Kellman attempted a 65-foot drop at Lower Mesa Falls near Ashton, Idaho.

“When I landed, I got thrown out of my boat,” he said. “Instantly it was pitch black and I had about 30 seconds of down time before being able to resurface.”

“You teach yourself to be really calm and collected.”

Kellman plans to go back to Lower Mesa Falls soon to re-attempt the falls, saying he needs to paddle the line right so that he hits a flake or rocky protrusion that lies 20 feet down the falls, bouncing off to break up the drop and then plunging another 40 feet.

He attributes kayaking to helping him learn to focus in situations of high intensity.

“It’s just really fun. I love the water,” he said.

Though he beat some professionals Saturday, Kellman is not in any hurry to turn pro, aware of the pressure associated with being sponsored.

“I want to take it far, but it’s not my entire life,” he said. “I just want to kayak.”

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